Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Henrico, VA

  • Published 2023/06/18

Although it has no incorporated towns and cities, Henrico County boasts a plethora of historic sites, beautiful parks, and entertainment selections.

Thanks to its census-designated places and other communities that entice visitors and travelers to step foot here.

Henrico was first founded as the City of Henrico in 1611 by Thomas Dale and was established in 1634 as one of Virginia Colony’s eight original shires or counties.

Henrico was named after Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales, the eldest son of King James I of England.

The county is part of the Greater Richmond Region and surrounds the city of Richmond to the west, the north, and the east.

The county is the fifth most populous in the state, with a population of over 334,000 per the 2020 census.

If you want to dive deep into this place, check out this list of the best things to do in Henrico, Virginia.

Go Shopping at Short Pump Town Center

Bird's eye view of Short Pump Town Center

Brandon Avram /

For ultimate lifestyle shopping, make your way to Short Pump Town Center in Short Pump.

This sprawling two-story open-air shopping mall spans 1,200,000 square feet, making it one of the biggest malls in the Richmond area.

It has over 140 outlets featuring branded retailers, apparel stores, jewelry, health and beauty, sports, department stores, electronics, home and housewares, sports and fitness, toys, specialty shops, professional services, and more.

People shopping at Short Pump Town Center

Ser_Amantio_di_Nicolao, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There are also entertainment options, like an escape room, live shows, and other family-friendly events, such as train rides, which the kids will enjoy.

After shopping, grab a hearty meal at one of Short Pump Town Center’s many top-tier restaurants serving different cuisines.

See Wildlife at Three Lakes Park & Nature Center

Disconnect from the city hustle and reconnect with nature at Three Lakes Park & Nature Center in Chamberlayne.

Visit the 6,500-square-foot nature center with exhibits featuring a variety of plants and animals native to the area’s woodlands, wetlands, and other habitats.

This can give visitors and those interested in nature hands-on experiences through interactive displays, dioramas, and live exhibits.

Admire the beautiful 50,000-gallon aquarium with fishes, turtles, and other aquatic creatures.

Take in the charming views as you walk and explore the trails surrounding the lovely three lakes within the park.

Woodpeckers, vireos, herons, deer, dragonflies, beavers, and salamanders are just some of the animals you will find in this place.

Three Lakes Park & Nature Center’s other amenities include a playground, picnic facilities, parking, restrooms, observation platforms, and a fishing pier.

Read Books at the Henrico County Public Library

For traveling bookworms, there is no perfect place to visit than the Henrico County Public Library, established in 1963.

The library’s name was changed to Henrico County Free Library System in 1966 and to its current name in 1967.

Here, you will find various resources with its vast collection of print books, magazines, e-books, DVDs, and more.

Library users and visitors can also access free Wi-Fi, computers, and printers and enjoy fun educational events like storytimes, book clubs, and programs for all ages.

Bring your kids or enjoy solitude while reading your preferred books at any of the Henrico County Public Library’s area and branch libraries.

Marvel at the Botanical Displays at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Gazebo at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

MichelleM0812 /

An enchanting place filled with so much beauty to behold and admire, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is not something you should miss.

It is one of the top gardens in the U.S. and one of the most visited attractions in the Richmond area.

Its striking gardens showcase over a dozen themes, including the Cochrane Rose Garden, Children’s Garden, Asian Valley, and Cherry Tree Walk.

What makes exploration more adventurous is that this site was once the “Oughnum” hunting ground of Powhatan Indians.

Cascade at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Seth Myers /

Besides the gardens, the place also has a tea house restaurant, a library cafe, a garden shop, and an 11,000-square-foot classic domed conservatory.

It also features art exhibits, gardening classes, and other fun activities and events and is ideal for hosting weddings, parties, and business meetings.

Learn about plant collections, relax in a lovely setting, or commune with nature by visiting this place in Lakeside in Henrico County.

Butterfly collecting nectar from a flower at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Zarif1992 /

Go Skating at Roller Dome Skating

Skate away with cool music and vibrant neon lights at Roller Dome Skating in Sandston.

This spacious roller skating rink provides roller skating fun, entertainment, and some good exercise for everyone.

The admission and skate rentals are inexpensive, making it more enticing for skate enthusiasts to visit this attraction.

You can check out their website for the full schedule of public sessions.

Try good grubs from the snack bar for an energy boost, peruse the shop, and get entertained with events like Rainbow Roll and Summer Matinees.

When you want to get your dose of this exhilarating pastime or sport, just head to Roller Dome Skating.

Have a Picnic at Dorey Park and Recreation Center

Dorey Park and Recreation Center in Varina covers 400 acres in the eastern part of Henrico, making it the largest park in the county.

Drop in the visitor information and see exhibits about the beautiful park and the county’s history.

The rentable recreation center is perfect for various events like family gatherings, celebrations, retreats, and meetings.

There are picnic facilities, a playground, an open space, a large pond with trails, walkways that wind through the woods, and a fishing pier.

For those into sports, multi-purpose fields, athletic fields, and courts are available for basketball, tennis, baseball, softball, soccer, and football.

You will also find equestrian rings, horse trails here, and a hiking trail that connects to the Virginia Capital Trail.

There are also concessions, restrooms, and an 18-hole disc golf course to show off your skills at Dorey Park and Recreation Center.

If you have pooches, take them to the one-acre off-leash fenced dog park with areas for small and larger dogs.

Visit the Clarke-Palmore House Museum

Outside view of the Clarke-Palmore House Museum

Crazyale, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Built in 1819, the Clarke-Palmore House Museum is a brick farmhouse perched atop historic Marion Hill in Henrico.

After buying the property in 1855, John Clarke expanded it by adding a second story.

In 1910, his daughter Estelle and her husband John Palmore added the clapboard section.

John Clarke’s granddaughter Vera Morton donated the house and 12 acres to Henrico County in 1999.

Open by appointment only, the museum features the story of the Palmore family and the county’s agricultural history.

In 2004, the Clarke-Palmore House Museum was proudly recorded in the National Register of Historic Places.

Ride a Boat at Deep Bottom Park

Roughly five miles southeast of Varina is Deep Bottom Park, a fantastic riverside spot ideal for anyone searching for water sports and activities.

This park has boat ramps to launch a boat, kayak, and canoe and have a great time paddling and exploring the James River.

Picnic amenities are available so you can picnic with your loved ones while enjoying the tranquil setting, waterfront, and nature views.

This site is also famous for anglers, as blue catfish, largemouth bass, shad, and stripers are abundant.

With many trees like oak, pine, and sycamore, birdlife abounds in Deep Bottom Park, such as bald eagle, red-bellied woodpecker, and osprey.

Keep Cool in the Summer at Hadad’s Lake

You can’t miss Hadad’s Lake if you’re looking for the best place to swim and beat the summer heat.

Established in 1965, this summer destination is perfect for swimming and picnicking.

This water park features many attractions, including a floating trampoline, rope swings, a launch tower, volleyball, miniature golf, and paddle boats.

Hadad’s Lake is located west of Varina and is open seasonally from May to September.

Glimpse the History of the Virginia Randolph Museum

Two women wearing vintage dress and waiting outside the Virginia Randolph Museum

Malachi Jacobs /

A National Register Landmark, the Virginia Randolph Museum is a single-story brick building constructed in 1937 in Glen Allen.

It housed the home economics cottage for the Virginia Randolph Education Center.

Virginia Randolph, a renowned African-American vocational educator in Henrico County, had an office in this historic building.

Randolph’s remains were interred on the grounds when she died in 1958.

Since 1970, the building has been a museum dedicated to Randolph and preserving her legacy.

Make sure to book an appointment before visiting the Virginia Randolph Museum.

Play at DEFY Richmond

Loads of fun things await at DEFY Richmond in Glen Allen, making it a destination for the entire family and friends.

Burn off some energy by exploring and trying some or all the thrilling activities this trampoline park offers.

Attractions include battle beams, ninja course, wall trump, parkour, stunt fall, zip line, basketball, dodgeball, high-end air track, open jump, and trapeze and aerial silks.

Apart from jumping, flipping, spinning, and playing, this venue is also ideal for parties and group events.

If you want to combine sports and fitness experience with entertainment, then add DEFY Richmond to your itinerary.

Catch a Show at Henrico Theatre

Exterior view of the Henrico Theatre

Crazyale, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Boasting an Art Deco style, Henrico Theatre was built in 1938 and opened its doors to the public as a movie palace in Highland Springs.

During World War II, this historic theater was designated as a bomb shelter.

Henrico County bought the property in 1998, and the historic theater reopened in 2007.

Enjoy watching various performances in a vintage setting, from plays to concerts and $1 movies for all ages.

Not only the movie tickets are very cheap, but also the snacks and refreshments at the concession stand!

Play Golf at Belmont Golf Course

Initially opened as Hermitage Country Club, Belmont Golf Course in Lakeside is one of Henrico County’s oldest courses that you should check out.

This 18-hole golf course was designed in 1917 by Hall of Fame Golf Course Architect A.W. Tillinghast.

Henrico County purchased the course in 1977 and transformed it into a public golf facility, and it now features a modern twist today.

The footprint of the original 18-hole course contains a restored 12 holes, a six-hole short course, an 18-hole putting course, a wedge range, and a driving range.

Enjoy a challenging round or two with your family or friends at Belmont Golf Course.

Watch Speeding Cars at Richmond Raceway

View of the Richmond Raceway

Alfred Wekelo /

Racing enthusiasts rejoice!

Thanks to Richmond Raceway, you’ll get an exhilarating experience as you watch racing action on this ¾ mile D-shaped racing track.

Known as America’s premier short track, this racetrack annually hosts two weekends of NASCAR racing and features IndyCar races.

Cars racing at the Richmond Raceway

Grindstone Media Group /

You can also catch fun live events, including concerts featuring local and national recording artists at Virginia Credit Union LIVE!

Likewise, check out the trade shows, outdoor festivals, and other events hosted in Richmond Raceway Complex, a sprawling 1,000-acre multi-purpose facility.

Richmond Raceway is located west of East Highland Park in Henrico County, a few miles away from the city of Richmond.

Racers at Richmond Raceway

Grindstone Media Group /

Let the Kids Play at Twin Hickory Park and Recreation Center

Opened in 2014, Twin Hickory Park and Recreation Center has plenty of amenities that will delight especially the kids.

There are playgrounds for ages 2-5 and another for 6-12, and you’ll enjoy watching them while they’re having fun with others.

But the park’s most famous feature is the small, zero-depth spray park or splash pad dedicated to children ages 12 and under with adult supervision.

There are picnic shelters and shaded areas for family picnics, a multi-purpose field, open play areas, and nature trails to walk, jog, and explore.

Twin Hickory Park and Recreation Center lies southeast of Wyndham and is a must-visit if you want a cute and lovely place for quality time with your little ones.

Final Thoughts

From historic spots to excellent entertainment, Henrico also offers beauty and surprises.

It is amazing to visit here with the family and is ideal if you’re on the hunt for a new great place in Virginia.

Make the most of your time as you indulge in the best things to do in Henrico, Virginia.

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